Ginaherald's Blog

June 18, 2010

So customer service is not “sexy enough” huh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ginaherald @ 1:21 am

Earlier this week I ran across some great customer service articles by Dan Elder, published on ezines.com.  They were a 5 part series on “The No Cost Secret to Increasing Sales and Profitability.”  They came across my wire via a LinkedIn group that I’m part of, and naturally the customer service topic intrigued me, so I popped in to ezines to check out what Mr. Elder had to say. 

After reading the articles I commented on some of the observations that he made (mainly because I totally agree with him about the complete lack of attention to customer service in many arenas these days) and he was kind enough to begin a dialogue on the subject.  He mentioned that he writes articles on multiple subjects and that interestingly enough, the customer service topic is the least read/followed of the subjects that he presents.  He said “I think it’s not ‘sexy enough’ for the audience to really find interest.  And I confess that I can relate, because I’ve been writing on this topic for about 3-4 months now and I’m still waiting for someone who is passionate enough about it to get a dialogue going with me on this forum.  I’m also hoping of course, that business owners, leaders and managers will take notice and say “Hum? I wonder how my customer service is really being delivered how it is impacting my business?”

I truly love the subject, and love to have conversations with people about it because it really is and can be for a company, a “No Cost Secret to Increasing Sales and Profitability”.  I mean who wouldn’t want to embrace a “no cost” solution?  Simply makes no sense to me.  I would think most business owners find increased sales and profitability pretty “sexy”.  I guarantee their shareholders do, if they are publically traded, and employees of private companies most assuredly appreciate sales and profits because that’s what keeps them employed. 

The purpose for being in business is to bring products and/or services to the marketplace (the customer). Without the customer we don’t exist.  Without demand we don’t need supply.  Why in the world wouldn’t companies embrace every possible concept, method, tactic and strategy to provide great customer service?  It’s one of those things I like to refer to as “simple but not easy”. It’s simple to provide great service (in my mind) but apparently not so easy or more companies would be doing it right? Or am I just way off base here?

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June 11, 2010

Are we sacrificing service in the name of efficiency?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ginaherald @ 2:28 am

Earlier this week I was chatting with a gal who told me that she lost her job in customer service/sales support after 28 years.  She told me that the job had been transferred to a call center in another state; a growing trend in a lot of industries these days. 

In my mind those in sales support and customer service (a job I did a time or 2 in my past) are more than just nameless, faceless reps answering phones – or at least they used to be.  In my previous roles in support/customer service I not only took sales/service calls, I got to know our customers, built a rapport/relationship and enhanced the brand of the company by adding value to the customer experience.  I don’t know about you but I appreciate the opportunity to chat with someone I know when I call a company.  Of course I realize that some companies, by the sheer number of customers they serve, cannot possibly operate in such a way, however I wonder if some smaller companies are sacrificing real service (which to me is relational) in the name of efficiency. 

I know we need to be as efficient as possible with the resources that we have and that our goal in business is to make a profit (hopefully while providing exceptional service to our clients).  I also know that my belief is that customer service is a function of marketing and not a cost center.  Look at companies like Zappos.com who have made service the cornerstone of their business.  Do they sell more? Hence creating more revenue?  I would say undoubtedly yes.  What about Amazon with all that free shipping? Think they sell more?  That’s a great service is it not? 

Maybe six-sigma didn’t necessarily get efficiency right when it comes to service? To me it’s all about relationships. People do business with people they know, like and trust.  And when I call a company for service, I want to talk to a person who appears warm and genuine and not someone who just seems to want to resolve my issue (if they are empowered to do so) and move on.  Know what I mean?  Had that experience?  Tell me about it……………

June 2, 2010

How do you view your role as a consumer when it comes to customer service?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ginaherald @ 11:14 pm

I had a couple of comments on my LinkedIn update about my last blog post on customer service. Pretty much just that good service is indeed important and that it has continued on the down hill slide over the last few years.  So it seems that we agree:  Customer service is important, sets you apart from your competitors and helps you retain clients.  In that case I ponder why companies have allowed it to decline steadily over the last several years.  Why have we, as consumers, allowed it to happen around us?  To us?  What role do we play in reviving it?  Where do we start?

Do you tend to go with the flow of whatever level of service you receive or do you give feedback?  And I’m talking about feedback on both exceptional and not so good service experiences.   Does it make a difference where you are whether or not you choose to give feedback? 

If you’ve never read it the MSN Money/Zogby poll that reports on the “Customer Service Hall of Shame” and the “Customer Service Hall of Fame” each year it is worth checking out.  What stood out to me this year (it just came out a couple of weeks ago) was that 9 of 10 companies on the “shame” list were repeat offenders, meaning they made the list last year too.  In my mind, not exactly a list I’d want to be named to more than once.  So why don’t they do something about it?   Because they can’t? Won’t?  Don’t know what to do?  Don’t know what their customers want?  Because we let them get away with it? 

The hall of fame list has airlines, retailers/grocers, insurance companies……on the hall of shame list it’s pretty much financial services, and telecom/cable/phone/internet.  Interesting that similar industries seem to have a tough time figuring it out.  Maybe all those regulations make it harder for them?  Who knows.  Maybe we can help them with some good advice here?

Thoughts?

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